For anyone who cares about breast cancer, the very public battle over Susan G. Komen For the Cure and its funding of Planned Parenthood’s breast care programs has triggered emotions ranging from anger to dismay to sadness. It’s also raised important questions about how breast cancer organizations use the sweat-earned money breast cancer survivors and their family members and friends raise.

That’s why I think it’s important for us to take this opportunity to use the public awareness about breast cancer funding to refocus attention on the need for research that will take us beyond a cure and figure out what causes this disease, so that we can end it.

As I said in my essay in the New York Times, because we do not know what causes breast cancer, we focus on looking for cancers that are already there. We’ve been doing this since the 1950s, when the first screening study demonstrated a 30 percent decrease in deaths from breast cancer. But decades later, the success rate of screening remains nearly the same, even with much better imaging: routine mammography screening results in a 15- to 20-percent decrease in mortality in women over age 50.

The problem is, as we now know, that there are at least five, and probably more, different types of breast tumors, and they grow at different rates. Some are so aggressive that they have almost always spread before they are visible on mammogram. But other tumors, if left alone, may never spread at all and do not need to be found. This doesn’t mean we should stop screening. Mammography remains the best tool we have. But we have to stop trying to make mammography better and start performing more research focused on finding what causes this disease.

I think that we can also say that when we’ve got the NFL wearing pink, we have achieved awareness. We need to go all the way and stop this disease. If we could discover that HPV causes cancer of the cervix, and then develop a vaccine to prevent it, there is no reason we can’t do the same for cancer of the breast! In fact, we are currently collaborating on research to look for an infectious cause of breast cancer. It is challenging to do this out-of-the-box research. It takes friends, focus, and funds! But if we don’t do it, who will?

If you agree with me, I hope that you will take this opportunity to support our work by giving a gift of love this Valentine’s Day to honor every woman and man you know who has raised money to fight this disease by making a gift to the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. This gift will go to fund research that will move us beyond mammograms, beyond the status quo, and toward a future where we can prevent this disease because we know the cause.

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7 Responses to Moving Forward

  1. Karen Fern says:

    I worked in an office within a factory while in grad school and several of my coworkers developed breast and other cancers, myself included. There were 10 women in the office and four of us got breast cancer. One got ovarian and another got colorectal cancer. There were no open windows and there were toxic substances nearby. I think the environmental factors triggered our cancers and I think more needs to be researched about cancer clusters in industrial situations.

  2. Being a Stage 3.or 4 breast cancer (trying to be a survivor), I was discussed that any money from Susan G. Komen was going to momography screening. Research is where most of us who donate expect our money to be used.

  3. Kristy Michigan says:

    Komen was responsible for Funding herceptin combined with chemo fights her2 positive breast cancer. It is saving my life at this moment. My family, friends, and I are forever grateful and ask everyone to support Komen for future generations and a cure!!!

  4. Darlene says:

    I stopped supporting Komen nearly 10 years ago when it became apparent they were political in nature – they tried to kick me out of a race for the cure because I was handing out brochures for IBCRF. Getting the word out about that deadly cancer that I lost my mother to. But they wouldn’t have it because IBCRF was not associated with Komen. I will not go into details of what they said to me, but it was inappropriate given IBC IS breast cancer. IMHO, tho Komen has raised awareness, it stops there. We need to find the cause and cure, which is why I fully support Dr. Love and Army of Women…I truly believe they are the ones who will eradicate breast cancer!! Thank you Dr. Love, for your tireless work for women!

  5. To be very honest, I am RELIEVED that Komen has shown its true colors to the public at last. There is nothing particularly new in their latest stunt, except for the microscope under which it has been examined. With less than 19% of funding directed at research (a percent which drops annually), “for the Cure” is quite a misnomer for some time! I am working on compiling a list of WORTHY organizations, and both DSLRF and AOW will be included!

  6. Pam says:

    There is a doctor at Hershey Medical Center, (Penn Stat Reseach doctor) Dr Craig Meyers, who has very likely found a cure for breast cancer and other cancers. So far all the lab studies show it works with no ill effects, but the problem is he can’t get funding for human trials, which is the next step.

    That is the sad part of research, unless one is affliliated with a source of constant funding, good research can stop dead in its track.

    Knowing a cause would be great, but I think it is obvious that there are many causes of breast cancer as with other cancers.

  7. Roxanne says:

    This is the first place I’ve come to and I hope I’m worried for nothing. I moved to Paradise, CA in 2009 after my husband died of colon cancer. I had a mammogram soon after arriving, establishing myself with my doctors in this community. They found a small shadow. Since then they have been doing a mammogram and an ultrasound every 6 months “watching” it. Today I said that’s enough. Until the doctor puts his testicles on the mammography slab and gets compressed, I’m not doing it. I want a test that ‘s not subjective, I want a biopsy or an aspiration. That’s when they showed me side by side the pics of the “spot” through 2009 to today. They had never done that before. I saw it grow from a shadow to a rather well formed grape-sized and shaped object with poorly formed edges. Now I’m alarmed and angry I’d not been showed this before!!! I will ask for the pictures of the progression as shown to me for my records and will have the biopsy next Wednesday, but my question is, were they ethical in their treatment of me?

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